Asbestos Company Attempts to Evade Liability for HVAC Technician’s Mesothelioma Death 

In May of 2021, mesothelioma claimed the life of 82-year-old Benedict Silvestri. The New York man had spent years working as an HVAC technician, and his family blamed asbestos contained in the equipment he worked on for his illness and death.  One of the companies named in their personal injury lawsuit was Rockwell Automation, which was the successor to Timken-Detroit Axle Company. Though Rockwell filed a motion to have the case against them dismissed, the company’s petition was denied.

HVAC technician

Burner Company’s Argument Against Mesothelioma Liability Called “Unconvincing” by Judge 

It is common for companies that have been named in malignant mesothelioma lawsuits to attempt to have the cases against them dismissed, but there is a high bar for success in these motions. The law calls summary judgment a “drastic remedy” that should only be granted if there is enough evidence to eliminate any material issues of fact from the case.  The law also requires that the court should draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party – in this case, the victim’s family.

In the case involving Mr. Silvestri, Rockwell’s entire argument against being held responsible for his malignant mesothelioma rested on a single piece of testimony he had given before his death, when he said that his asbestos exposure was caused by boiler-related parts. The company asserted that because he had not specifically attributed his illness to Timken burners, they should be dismissed from the case. Justice Adam Silvera of the Supreme Court of New York called this argument “unconvincing.”

Judge Notes that Mesothelioma Victim’s Testimony was “Clear and Convincing”

In denying the burner company’s argument, the judge agreed with the mesothelioma victim’s family that his testimony regarding Timken burners had been “clear and convincing.” Mr. Silvestri had testified that asbestos-containing components were required to be used when installing Timken burners to the boilers. 

Because the company had not proven that the burners did not contain asbestos or had not required asbestos-containing parts in order to be installed, and had not attempted to disprove Mr. Silvestri’s exposure to their burners or to prove that his mesothelioma could not have been caused by exposure to their burners, their motion was denied. The company will remain a defendant.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, the Patient Advocates at are here to help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608 to learn more.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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